COVID vaccine requirement: Some Chicago restaurants report drop in business after mandate takes effect

CHICAGO (WLS) – Some Chicago restaurants say an already slow January is even slower now that evidence of the city’s COVID vaccine mandate is in effect.

Customers often spend less after the holidays, and the cold and fear of the omicron variant keeps them indoors. Now some companies are saying the new rule is added to it.

The owner of Nuevo Leon restaurant in Little Village said he started checking COVID vaccination cards this week, as required by the city of Chicago. But Laura Gutierrez said she was repelled by some customers.

“Their reaction was not what I expected,” she said.

She said after numerous complaints and customers leaving, refusing to show proof of vaccination, business was down 80% this week.

“We’re not doing anything against them, we’re just trying to keep the business afloat and keep everyone healthy,” she said.

Gutierrez said they will comply not only to keep staff and customers safe, but because she doesn’t want to pay fines. Just this week, the Chicago Department of Commercial Affairs and Consumer Protection said it received 32 complaints and issued 10 citations to five companies.

Nuevo Leon client Julio Quiles said he and his family had COVID last month. He and his friends weren’t aware of the new rule when they walked into the restaurant earlier this week, but on Friday they were back with their vaccination cards handy.

“It feels good that they are asking for it to reduce the number of cases and prevent people from being affected more than they already have,” he said.

Gutierrez hopes more customers will come back with immunization cards and hopes she doesn’t have to make any drastic changes to keep the 40-year-old family business open.

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